MADISON — University of Wisconsin System President Katharine C. Lyall has ordered an immediate hiring freeze for all UW campuses, a move that affects 26 communities around the state.
Bracing for the most devastating budget cuts in the history of the UW System, Lyall instructed UW chancellors not to fill vacant positions on their campuses and to begin working on contingency budget plans should the Legislature follow through with cuts proposed by Assembly Republicans over the weekend.
The Board of Regents on Friday halted any further undergraduate admissions in the face of an additional $20 million cut to the UW System imposed by the Joint Finance Committee. Over the weekend, the situation grew worse, noted Lyall, as the Assembly Republican Caucus added another $50 million in cuts.
“When the state cut the University by $33 million in 1995-96,” said Lyall, “we had more than a year to plan for those cuts. Right now, the more than $100 million in cuts on the table would go into effect in four months.”
Lyall noted that these cuts follow three decades of declining state support for the UW System. When adjusted for inflation, the university’s state budget is about the same as it was in 1992, while the state budget has grown 75 percent.
Lyall noted that 85 percent of the state’s share of the university’s budget is tied up in salaries, and such a large proposed cut would put a significant number of university positions on the chopping block.
“We realize that enrollment cuts and associated cuts in our workforce will be very damaging not only to campuses but to their local communities as well. These are brain gain jobs, good paying jobs,” noted Lyall, and “we would hate to see them lost.”
“It would be tragic if the UW System, an engine of the state economy, were stymied in its effort to help the state,” added Lyall.
Lyall noted that the UW System chancellors and Board of Regents are monitoring the budget situation on a daily basis.
“The Governor is trying to help as are other members of the legislature,” noted Lyall. “I hope we can get some assurance that the money will be restored to serve these additional students.”
“We are aware of the inconvenience and anxiety that this freeze is causing prospective students and their families,” added Lyall, “and we are determined to find a way to admit as many students as the state will support.”
The Assembly budget bill, expected to pass later this week, also calls for very specific cuts and revenue adjustments, including cutting 83 percent of the university’s GPR travel budget, 20 percent of the GPR printing budget and 153 percent (more than all GPR budgeted) of the university’s advertising budget. In addition, the Assembly budget bill would raise tuition for nonresident undergraduates by an additional 10 percent.
“These cuts directly affect undergraduate students,” said Lyall. “Students travel on field trips for their classes and to conduct volunteer work in their communities, and many of our publications are designed to get needed information to students and prospective students and their families.”